Reflections on Prayer - July

Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts…”

 By Lisa Espinoza

A while back there was a country song about a guy who cheats on his wife—imagine that, a country song about cheating. He’s asking her to forgive him and she replies, “Forgive…that’s a mighty big word for such a small man.” Touché.  Take that, cheater.

Yet in my smugness, it occurs to me that God could say the same thing when I go to Him and ask forgiveness yet again, maybe for the same thing I’ve asked a hundred times before. He doesn’t have to grant forgiveness to anyone for anything. By His grace, however, He has chosen to make a promise to us. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (I John 1:9)

This month we focus on our utter lack of resource to “pay off” our debt to God—our spiritual poverty—and His ever-present grace in the face of our need.

Week 1

Brennan Manning writes, “If we only pretend to be sinners, we can only pretend to be forgiven.” It’s easy to think if we haven’t committed some egregious wrong that we’re in the black on the spiritual ledger. Or that if we have all our ducks in a row, so to speak, that must mean we’ve moved ourselves from spiritual poverty to spiritual Bill Gates-ness.

This week ask God to give you a glimpse into your own spiritual poverty—your desperate need of God’s forgiving grace. At the end of each day this week, write down any sin that you become aware of that needs to be confessed or anything God teaches you about your moment-by-moment need for grace.

Week 2

Last week we asked God to reveal to us the nature of our spiritual poverty. Open your journal and reflect on what you wrote. Now imagine God’s grace pouring over the page, covering up and saturating every word on the page.   On the bottom of your page write,   “Forgiven. Debt paid in full.” Write a note that says PIF (paid in full) and put it in a prominent place so that each time you see it, you will rejoice in the Lord’s abundant provision for your need.

Week 3

To ask forgiveness is one thing. To live in it can prove quite another. You can be confident that the enemy of our souls will seize every opportunity to throw our failures at us and try to make us doubt the reality of our forgiveness in Christ. When this happens (when, not if), we must promptly shut him down.   How do we do that? By imitating Jesus’ strategy in the desert when He was tempted by Satan. We combat the lie with the truth. This week memorize I John 1:9 to use as a powerful weapon each time Satan tries to tempt you to doubt Christ’s power of forgiveness in your life.

Week 4

Read Colossians 2:13, 14. Each day this week, sit for a few minutes with these words. Write out the passage; say it aloud; pen your own paraphrase. Let it’s truth sink into your soul, infusing life and hope into every part of your being.